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the grave citizens of Rome for embracing the just but improsperous cause of the commonwealth ? A wise man's circumstances may vary and fluctuate like the floods about a rock ; but he persists unmoveably the same, and his reputation unshaken; for he can always render a good account of his actions, and by reasonable apology elude the assaults of reproach.
XII. Wisdom instructs us to examine, compare, and rightly to value the objects that court our affections, and challenge our care; and thereby regulates our passions, and moderates our endeavors, which begets a pleasant serenity and peaceable tranquillity of mind. For when, being deluded with false shows, and relying on ill-grounded presumptions, we highly esteem, passionately affect, and eagerly pursue things of little worth in themselves, or concernment to us, as we unhandsomely prostitute our affections, and prodigally misspend our time, and vainly lose our labor ; so the event not answering our expectation, our minds thereby are confounded, disturbed, and distempered. But when, guided by right reason, we conceive great esteem of, and zealously are enamored with, and vigorously strive to attain things of excellent worth and weighty consequence; the conscience of having well placed our affections, and well employed our pains, and the experience of fruits corresponding to our hopes, ravishes our mind with unexpressible content. And so it is: present appearance and vulgar conceit ordinarily impose on our fancies, disguising things with a deceitful varnish, and representing those that are vainest with the greatest advantage; whilst the noblest objects, being of a more subtile and spiritual nature, like fairest jewels inclosed in a homely box, avoid the notice of gross sense, and pass undiscerned by us. But the light of wisdom, as it unmasks specious imposture, and bereaves it of its false colors; so it penetrates into the retirements of true excellency, and reveals its genuine lustre. For example, corporeal pleasure, which so powerfully allures and enchants us, wisdom declares that it is but a present, momentary, and transient satisfaction of brutish sense, dimming the light, sullying the beauty, impairing the vigor, and restraining the activity of the mind; diverting from better operations, and indisposing it to enjoy purer delights; leaving no comfortable relish or gladsome memory behind it, but often followed with
bitterness, regret, and disgrace. That the profit the world so greedily gapes after is but a possession of trifles, not valuable in themselves, nor rendering the masters of them so; accidentally obtained, and promiscuously enjoyed by all sorts, but commonly by the worst of men; difficultly acquired, and easily lost; however, to be used but for a very short time, and then to be resigned into uncertain hands. That the honor men so dote on is ordinarily but the difference of a few petty circumstances, a peculiar name or title, a determinate place, a distinguishing ensign ; things of only imaginary excellence, derived from chance, and conferring no advantage, except from some little influence they have on the arbitrary opinion and fickle humor of the people ; complacence in which is vain, and reliance on it dangerous. That power and dominion, which men so impatiently struggle for, are but necessary evils introduced to restrain the bad tempers of men; most evil to them that enjoy them; requiring tedious attendance, distracting care, and vexatious toil; attended with frequent disappointment, opprobrious censure, and dangerous envy; having such real burdens, and slavish incumbrances, sweetened only by superficial pomps, strained obsequiousness, some petty privileges and exemptions scarce worth the mentioning. That wit and parts, of which men make such ostentation, are but natural endowments, commendable only in order to use, apt to engender pride and vanity, and hugely dangerous, if abused or misemployed. What should I mention beauty, that fading toy; or bodily strength and activity, qualities so palpably inconsiderable ? On these and such like flattering objects, so adored by vulgar opinion, wisdom exercising severe and impartial judgment, and perceiving in them no intrinsic excellence, no solid content springing from them, no perfection thence accruing to the mind, no hig reward allotted to them, no security to the future condition, or other durable advantages proceeding from them ; it concludes they deserve not any high opinion of the mind, nor any vehement passion of the soul, nor any laborious care to be employed on them, and moderates our affections toward them : it frees us from anxious desire of them; from being transported with excessive joy in the acquisition of them ; from being overwhelmed with disconsolate sorrow at the missing of them, or
parting with them ; from repining and envying at those who have better success than ourselves in the procuring them; from immoderate toil in getting, and care in preserving them: and so delivering us from all these unquiet anxieties of thought, tumultuous perturbations of passion, and tedious vexations of body, it maintains our minds in a cheerful calm, quiet indifferency, and comfortable liberty. On the other side, things of real worth and high concernment, that produce great satisfaction to the mind, and are mainly conducible to our happiness, such as are a right understanding and strong sense of our obligations to Almighty God, and relations to men, a sound temper and complexion of mind, a virtuous disposition, a capacity to discharge the duties of our places, a due qualification to enjoy the happiness of the other world ; these and such like things, by discovering their nature and the effects resulting from them, it engages us highly to esteem, ardently to affect, and industriously to pursue ; so preventing the inconveniences that follow the want of them, and conveying the benefits arising from the possession of them.
XIII. Wisdom distinguishes the circumstances, limits the measures, determines the modes, appoints the fit seasons of action; so preserving decorum and order, the parent of peace, and preventing confusion, the mother of iniquity, strife, and disquiet. It is in the business of human life as in a building; a due proportion of bigness, a fit situation of place, a correspondency of shape, and suitableness of color, is to be observed between the parts thereof: a defect in any of which requisites, though the materials hap to be choice and excellent, makes the whole fabric deformed and ugly to judicious apprehension. The best actions, if they swell, and exceed their due measure, if they be unskilfully misplaced, if in uncouth manner performed, they lose their quality, and turn both to the disgrace and disadvantage of life. It is commendable to pray; but they that would always be performing that duty, by their absurd devotion procured to themselves the title of heretics ; and they that will stand praying in places of public concourse, deserved our Saviour's reprehensions; and those men who, against the custom and ordinary use, would needs pray with their faces covered, you know St. Paul insinuates of them, that
they were fond and contentious persons. Friendly admonition is very laudable, and of rare use ; but being on all occasions immoderately used, or in public society so as to encroach on modesty, or endamage reputation; or when the person admonished is otherwise employed, and attent on his business; or being delivered in an imperiously insulting way, or in harsh and opprobrious language; it becomes unsavory and odious, and both in show and effect resembles a froward, malicious exceptiousness. It were infinite to compute in how many
instances want of due order, measure, and manner, do spoil and incommodate action. It is wisdom that applies remedy to these mischiefs. Things must be compared to and arbitrated by her standard, or else they will contain something of monstrous enormity; either strutting in unwieldy bulk, or sinking in de fective scantness. If she do not fashion and model circumstances, they will sit ugly on the things that wear them; if she do not temper the colors, and describe the lineaments, the draught of practice will be but rude and imperfect, and little resemble the true patterns of duty : but if she interpose and perform her part, all things will appear conformable, neat, and delicate.
XIV. Wisdom discovers our relations, duties, and concernments, in respect of men, with the natural grounds of them; thereby both qualifying and inclining us to the discharge of them : whence exceeding convenience, pleasure, and content ensues. By it we understand we are parts and members of the great body, the universe; and are therefore concerned in the good management of it, and are thereby obliged to procure its order and peace, and by no irregular undertaking to disturb or discompose it; which makes us honest and peaceable men : that we proceed from the same primitive stock, are children of the same father, and partake of the same blood with all men ; are endowed with like faculties of mind, passions of soul, shape of body, and sense of things : that we have equally implanted in our original constitution inclinations to love, pity, gratitude, sociableness, quiet, joy, reputation : that we have an indispensable need and impatient desire of company, assistance, comfort, and relief; that therefore it is according to the design of nature, and agreeable to reason, that
to those, to whom our natural condition by so many bands of cognation, similitude, and mutual necessitude, hath knit and conjoined us, we should bear a kind respect and tender affection; should cheerfully concur in undergoing the common burdens; should heartily wish and industriously promote their good, assist them in accomplishing their reasonable desires, thankfully requite the courtesies received from them, congratulate and rejoice with them in their prosperity, comfort them in their distresses, and, as we are able, relieve them ; however, tenderly compassionate their disappointments, miseries, and
This renders us kind and courteous neighbors, sweet and grateful companions. It represents unto us the dreadful effects and insupportable mischiefs arising from breach of faith, contravening the obligations of solemn pacts, infringing public laws, deviating from the received rules of equity, violating promises, and interrupting good correspondence among men; by which considerations it engages us to be good citizens, obedient subjects, just dealers, and faithful friends. It minds us of the blindness, impotence, and levity, the proneness to mistake and misbehavior that human nature necessarily is subject to; deserving rather our commiseration than anger or hatred, which prompts us to bear the infirmities of our brethren, to be gentle in censure, to be insensible of petty affronts, to pardon injuries, to be patient, exorable, and reconcilable to those that give us greatest cause of offence. It teaches us the good may, but the evil of our neighbor can in no wise advantage us ; that from the suffering of any man, simply considered, no benefit can accrue, nor natural satisfaction arise to us; and that therefore it is a vain, base, brutish, and unreasonable thing, for any cause whatsoever, to desire or delight in the grief, pain, or misery of our neighbor, to hate or envy him, or insult over him, or devise mischief to him, or prosecute revenge on him; which makes us civil, noble, and placable enemies, or rather no enemies at all. So that wisdom is in effect the genuine parent of all moral and political virtue, justice, and honesty ; as Solomon says in her person,
• I lead in the way of righteousness, and in the midst of the paths of judgment:' Prov. viii. 20. And how sweet these are in the practice, how comfortable in the consequences, the testimony of continual expe